Helping businesses thrive in a community is the mission of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, which covers five counties and three states.

It is CEO James Grunke's job to be vested in the whole region. 

"We're the largest business organization in Erie," said Grunke. "We have about 800 businesses that are members. We represent about 80,000 jobs. Our role is to be the advocate of the business community here."

The 12-person team brainstorms to help companies with workforce development, government affairs and economic development.

"We have a lot of advocacy roles and responsibilities," said Grunke. "Sometimes, it's how do I get a building permit to 'Hey, I have a governmental question, but I don't want them to know I'm the one asking it,' to even how we're helping our community's business agenda."

Services from the chamber are available for any business - not just members. 

Members have more access to networking events like Business After Hours and Business & Brewskis and close looks at operations on site.

Membership coordinator Colleen Gross helps plan the events and said there's different levels based on employee count.

"Chamber membership may not be a fit at the time, but we can try to figure out ways that we can still help non-member businesses," said Gross. "At the end of the day, it's all about our community and it growing and thriving and moving Erie forward."

Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership is now part of the downtown Erie revitalization project. 

The chamber is hosting its Celebration of Excellence event Wednesday and will be presenting awards to different business leaders.

It also coordinates a 12-week Erie Ambassadors course, which provides a window into different aspects of the community.